Tuts Washington was a blues pianist out of New Orleans who taught himself the instrument at 10 years old. From there, he would practice under jazz musician Red Cayou.
While Tuts Washington had a very lengthy career, it wasn’t heavily documented. He played for a number of Dixieland bands during the 1920s and 1930s. His ability allowed him to play a number styles from blues to jazz to ragtime. This allowed for him to be in demand even after World War II ended.
Following the war, Washington tried his hand at recording in an act with drummer Herman Seals and singer/guitarist Smiley Lewis. On the Imperial Records label, the trio released a number of songs but Washington would head off to St. Louis. He played here for a period before returning to the New Orleans scene as the 1960s rolled around.
In New Orleans, Tuts Washington found work in a number of French Quarter restaurants. He also performed at the widely respected New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival where he would be a regular fixture.
The bulk of his career saw Tuts steer clear of recording. That changed in 1983 when he signed on with Rounder Records to release New Orleans Piano Professor. A year later, he would suffer a heart attack during a performance at the New Orleans’ World’s Fair. He was 77 years old.